'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Cable TV is no longer the only option when it comes time to watch a flick. Technology has changed the game, which means that traditional television is far from your only option when it comes time to watch your favorite movies and TV shows.
Today, there are video streaming services that allow you to access your favorite content without having to suffer through a pricey cable contract. Video streaming apps are the perfect solution for cord-cutters who are looking to stray from cable television but do not want to give up access to their favorite movies and shows. With a video streaming app, you can still access a full video library with options both old and new.
Nestle in and prepare to enjoy your favorite movies and other content with these best video streaming apps.
Features: Number of titles: 26,000+ | Simultaneous streams: 3 | Free trial: 30 days
Amazon Prime Video is an option available to everyone, regardless of whether you are an Amazon Prime member. Amazon Prime Video is an option that enables you to view tons of top movies and TV shows for free when you see the Amazon Prime logo.
There are also tons of titles available for purchase, which you can buy even without an Amazon Video membership via Amazon Freevee, plus a live TV option. New titles are added regularly, which you have the option to rent, purchase, or view for free.
For easy viewing, Amazon Prime Video is compatible with a variety of devices, including Fire TV, PlayStation 4, Samsung, Sony, Android, and iOS. It is flexible, too, offering a variety of membership types and discounts to help ensure that there is something for everyone.
Plans start at $7.49/month if you're a student eligible for the discount. Otherwise, to get Prime Video only (not an Amazon Prime subscription) it's $8.49/month. If you are an Amazon Prime member, Prime Video is included in your $14.99/month subscription.
Features: Number of titles: 7,500+ | Simultaneous streams: 4 | Free trial: None
Disney is famous for its family-friendly approach, and that extends to its video streaming service, as well. It has an excellent library that includes content not only from Disney but also Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
New releases are added regularly, including exclusive Disney Originals that you cannot find anywhere else. You can download them to watch later with unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices.
You can also schedule a viewing party with up to six of your friends using the GroupWatch feature. For concerned parents, parental controls are available and easy to set. Pricing is affordable, and you can also opt for a ready-made bundle that includes Disney+, as well as Hulu and ESPN+.
For Disney+ alone, it costs $9.99/month. However, if you want the bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN, it costs $12.99/month.
Features: Number of titles: 2,500+ | Simultaneous streams: 3 | Free trial: None; new customer discount
HBO Max is the video streaming service of the popular HBO, replacing the former HBO NOW and HBO GO apps. It still maintains HBO's dedication to new releases, offering exclusive Max Originals with same-day streaming for Warner Bros. releases. In total, there are over 13,000 hours of content with not only movies available but TV series, as well. Old HBO favorites are available, as well.
To get started, you can subscribe from your subscription package, or you can purchase directly from HBOMax.com. If you subscribe directly from HBO, you can choose from two plans, one with ads and one without, but the ad-free subscription comes with extra bonuses, including 4K UHD movies. Access is easy, too, with several devices that include Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, PlayStation, PC, and iOS devices.
An HBO Max subscription starts at $9.99/month that includes ads in between shows/movies. To watch ad-free, it'll cost you $14.99/month.
Features: Number of titles: 3,000+ | Simultaneous streams: 2 to unlimited | Free trial: 30 days
Hulu is a great video streaming service that also offers the option of live TV, so you do not have to sacrifice your favorite live programming when you convert to a video streaming app. There are more than 75 live channels, including news. Sports enthusiasts will be pleased by live sports from popular networks, including NBA, NFL, and NHL.
You also have access to exclusive series and Hulu Originals, as well as current shows and hit movies. If you can't get to your content right away, no worries because the Unlimited DVR will save your content for up to nine months. Just as with Disney+, you can bundle your subscription with Disney+ and ESPN+ for a well-rounded package that has something for everyone in the family.
Pricing starts at $7.99/month, but you'll have to endure some ads. The ad-free version is $14.99/month. There are also bundle options where you can bundle live TV, Disney+, and ESPN from $69.99/month to $82.99/month.
Features: Number of titles: 17,000+ | Simultaneous streams: Up to 4 | Free trial: None
Netflix has become synonymous with video streaming, so it is no surprise that it makes our list of the best video streaming services. It skips the wasted time on commercials and instead offerings ad-free viewing of a variety of different titles. In recent years, it has really expanded its Originals library, offering all-new, exclusive content spanning several genres.
Netflix seems to have it all - movies, TV shows, anime, and documentaries - so it is a great choice when you are looking for more diverse content. New content is added each week, and you are able to view from an unlimited number of devices for easy viewing. Plus, there are no commitments, so you can cancel your account at any time without any added headaches.
The basic plan (with ads) will cost you $6.99/month and the basic plan without ads is $9.99/month. Then, there is a Standard plan which is $15.49/month and allows for 1080p resolution streaming and the ability to watch on up to two devices. Finally, you can pay $19.99/month for Netflix's premium plan which gets you 4K and HDR and up to four devices.
With tons of new and original content, Amazon Prime gets our vote for the best video streaming service. It is affordable after the 30-day free trial ends, and you get exclusive access to new releases, bringing the movie theater right to your home.
To see how Amazon Prime compares, here is an overview of the best video streaming services. In terms of pricing, we listed the lowest price each streaming service offers.
Video Streaming Service
Amazon Prime Video
$8.99/mo. (Prime Video only)
New customer discount
These expert suggestions can help you find the best video streaming service for your needs.
Choose this video streaming service...
If you want...
Amazon Prime Video
The best overall option
A family-friendly streaming service.
A premium streaming service option.
To watch live TV and sports.
To watch award-winning originals.
To choose the best video streaming services, we look to several specific factors.
Cable can be a great option when you want to have access to a wide variety of content. However, with cable pricing so high, many people look to streaming as a better alternative. With streaming, you can pay only for the titles you watch, saving you money in the long-run and offering a cleaner, more streamlined way to manage your titles.
Streaming services are typically compatible with a variety of different devices to simplify accessibility. This includes popular devices like your smartphone, laptop, or smart TV.
The best streaming services range in cost, but all have starting costs below $10 per month. You can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $20 monthly, depending on if you want special features like 4K streaming and no ads.
Most content providers today offer a video streaming service that you can use to view new and exclusive content. These providers almost made our list for the best video streaming services.